Sometimes there will be days when you are feeling simply overwhelmed by everything and nothing seems to be making you feel better.
You may be feeling down about a relationship that seems to be failing, the kids are noisy, unco-operative and you don’t feel like dealing with them and your money problems seem to be reaching their peak.
Your life feels like it is on a downwards slope to never-ending misery and you are teary, discouraged and feeling like giving up again.
It’s important at this point of the program, after all of the work you have done thus far, to take notice of what you have achieved.
Changing your belief system so that it doesn’t lead you to depression, is easy in principle, but not so easy in practice. You are going to have days where life gets to you and it feels like you are back to square one again. There are going to be days where all that habitual thinking comes back into play and consumes you again.
It’s important to recognise this as being part of your pathway to change. It’s a habitual thoughts process in itself that we think, “If I go for what I want, but don’t get it straight away, then I won’t get it at all.”
But this couldn’t be further from the truth. The way to the goal is filled with ups and downs, learning and growing. That’s what the goal is all about. You stuffing up, making mistakes, going back to your old way of thinking, this IS you getting to the goal.
This is you recognising this thinking, feeling again what these thoughts do to you on a physical and emotional level, then working your way once again towards living your depression-free life.
When you are having these days of overwhelm, let yourself have them. Sit with these feelings, take notice of the thinking that is causing you to feel this way and just observe the association between these thoughts and emotions.
Recognise, once again that it is your habitual thinking that is causing you to feel this way, not the events occuring in your life.
I know it is difficult not to associate events with the cause of your depression. It’s easy to think that if you could just get along with your partner, if the kids would just behave, if you just had more money, then life will get easier. The reality is that life probably would get easier. You probably would become happy…..but this is only until the next challenge comes along to trigger those same habitual beliefs that are presently causing you to feel depressed, stressed or anxious.
That doesn’t mean that you should just put up with the situation at hand and only work on your mindset. This is what steps three to five on the Mind TRACK to Happiness are all about. While working on your mindset, it is also vitally important that you are also working on achieving your aims and maintaining a solution focussed approach to your problems.
On days where life feels like it’s too much, this is the part where you just need to allow yourself to fall apart, feel sad and don’t give too much power to what is happening within you. It’s okay to be sad. Part of the reason you feel depressed is because you probably feel weak and useless because of the way you feel. Perhaps you believe that you should be able to ‘hold it all together’.
But we all have our low days, our days where we feel discouraged, and it’s important for you to allow yourself to feel blue sometimes. At the same time though, keep recognising the thinking pattern causing you to feel this way, because this will help you to disassociate your worth from the way you are feeling.
When you remind yourself that it is your memes, your habitual thinking that believes that life can go wrong, that you are missing out on what your life needs, that you should be doing this or someone else should be doing that and that your life is worth-less because of it, then you help yourself to detach from this thinking being real.
When you are ready, go ahead and apply the reality thinking model to your situations. Keep working towards changing that habitual thinking. Challenge what your mind thinks is reality with the new perspective on reality that has been taught in this program and keep on going.
As the famous kids’ movie Nemos states:
“Just keep swimming, swimming, swimming….”
It will get easier, I promise. Remember that I, too have sat where you are. I too have felt like all is hopeless and that nothing will ever go ‘right’ in my life again. I still have days where I feel discouraged and down, even for no apparent reason. But I simply allow myself to feel this way for a little while, observe my thinking and let myself be.
You don’t need to control your thinking 24/7. It can be exhausting to continually monitor and deliberately change your thinking all of the time. Give yourself a break once in a while and don’t feel like you have to get the ‘reality thinking model right’ and feel like you have failed yourself if you cannot achieve this 24/7.
Everything you do is learning and growing. Everything that occurs in your life is valuable, even those times where you are feeling overwhelmed because this is reminding you of why you want to change. Allow yourself to feel what it really feels like to have depression, feel down, so that you can remember this feeling.
Why do you want to remember this feeling? Because this will drive you to continue working on changing your thinking to feel differently! Hence, the value in those down times.
Once you are ready to get back on the horse and keep applying the Mind TRACK to Happiness process to your life again. Let me show you how you can do this when you are feeling so overwhelmed by everything.
Step One – Thoughts
Hopefully when you have got to the point of deliberately deciding to apply the Mind TRACK to Happiness process, you have allowed yourself some time to feel, to observe your thinking and remind yourself of how your thinking is responsible for your feelings.
Your job on this step is done now, it’s time to move on to step two, because sometimes it can become habit to continually look around your life and find what it is you are not getting and how life is going wrong.
Now it’s time to change the direction of that thinking and expand your mindset in the direction of your new perspective and the new habitual thinking that you are trying to install in your brain.
Step Two – Reality
When feeling particularly overhwelmed by multiple things going on in your life, a general upgrade of your life overall would be useful before moving onto the solution focussed steps.
As soon as possible, write yourself a half to full page of upgrades on all of the situations causing you overhwelm. Find as many different ways as possible for looking at:
- The reality of the situation – what actually is. I know you won’t probably like any of this reality of the situation part, but nonetheless, there has to be an acceptance of where you are at right now before you can move forward
- The reality of being a parent – ups and downs, learning and development of your child, the change in life that you are adjusting to, the fact that you have changed as a person, letting go of the person you used to be and how life used to be lived and accepting your new reality. Keep in perspective the reality that your child’s current demanding and developmental age will not last forever and whatever you are dealing with right now will soon pass by.
- The reality of life – Every single person on this planet has gone through challenges that they learn from. This time of your life is only small period of your whole life. Spend a lot of time on this upgrade and the next one, pushing yourself to expand your mindset to look at the bigger picture of your life in general. These hard times will end. They will move on. You will experience happier times as you continue to move towards your aims and actively seek the information that you need to progress through this challenge. Look back at past experiences, past challenges, what they have taught you and how valuable they became either because of the change of direction you ended up taking because of it, or because of the life lessons learnt. Let them serve as a reminder that what you are going through right now is another little lesson unfolding in front of your eyes.
Now turn your attention to trying to find the hidden good in the bad. Trying finding specific things that are good about your life, what you could possibly be learning about your life right now. Perhaps what you are going through right now is what you need in order to focus more attention on you and your personal growth. Perhaps this current period of your life is teaching you to seek help on learning strength, independence, self-reliance, self-love, personal empowerment, how to teach your kids these same qualities, how to reignite your relationship, or let each other go so you can start new journeys with new adventures. If you cannot see any good in this current situation, at least just acknowledge that there will, at some point, be value in what you are presently experiencing, even if it is not yet obvious.
- The reality of self-worth – We are all playing a part in the unfolding of life. You are playing a part in your child’s journey, your partner’s journey and everyone around you too. Whether you see it or not you play a vital role in the unfolding of life. Your life is not valuable because you achieve something, or because life happens to be going in the direction you would like it to. It is valuable because you are here right now living in it, learning what you are learning and contributing your uniqueness to those around you.
I know that when you feel overhwelmed by a lot of things that seem to be going ‘wrong’ that you don’t particularly care about what influence you are having on another person, but if you can at least grasp the concept of what value life has on the bigger picture and that you, as a person are not defined by these current events, that your life’s value is not defined by these current events, then this will stop you going right down in the pits of depression.
Things happen in life that don’t feel good sometimes, but things happen sometimes that do feel good. A successful life is not defined by the good times anymore than it is defined by the bad. These goods and bads are simply a reality of life, and all the while your worth still remains because you are you, contributing to the world and making a massive difference to the lives of many (particularly your children).
Keep going with these upgrades until you feel better, even if it’s just marginally better. It all makes a difference. Then continue on with the rest of the TRACK process. Staying solution focussed is vital. Just because your thinking is in alignment with reality, it doesn’t mean that you won’t want to change this reality. Keep swimming onto step three….
Step Three – Aim
When feeling overhwelmed by multiple areas of your life, it’s important to break it down.
Remember that you want to change the direction of your thoughts. You want to stop yourself from continually seeing what is wrong in your life and what you are missing out on. To do this you need to start looking at what you want. Rather than searching for what you don’t want and finding more evidence of it in your life, start searching for what you DO want. What is the ideal of the situation?
Take a look around you and list the problems that you are having right now. Get really specific about what potential outcome you are looking for.
Break it down into categories. For example:
Your Marital Relationship: What do you want for your relationship? Do you want to re-kindle the flame? Can you remember the last time your relationship felt good? Would you like it to go back to that? What did that look like? What was happening during that time that made you feel like the relationship was good? What were you doing that contributed to your relationship that was good? What was he doing that contributed to this relationship being good?
At some point one of you have to start changing the current dynamic that has become set up between you. Over time something changed. Over time, you both stopped doing what it was that made your relationship wonderful in the first place. One of you now has to start adding that back into your relationship and break the current cycle you are in.
It may not fix everything straight away, but it does start to get the ball rolling and possibly open up the communication channels.
Be specific about what you want from your relationship so that you can begin to search for how to get it at the next step? What will it look like when you are happy with your present relationship? What will be happening?
Yourself: What do you want for yourself? It’s difficult to be loving and understanding to someone else when you are not that way to yourself. When you are feeling like you are a failure or that your life has failed, you hardly have the energy to think about anyone else, especially when you have kids in the mix who also need your love and attention.
You can’t give what you do not hold yourself, so you need to work on yourself. Remember the rules of flying? Apply the air mask to yourself first before you can help others?
But before you help yourself you need to get specific about how you would like to be. What are your goals in the area of yourself? What sort of person do you aspire to be? What does a happy you look like?
Money: I know that money is a huge topic to talk about and one that often requires a lot of effort in order to re-train your brain out of ‘no-money thinking’. Most of us are raised expecting to be lacking in money, but we often don’t actually sit down and look at what we want and search for ways to get it.
Be specific about what you want in the area of money. What does having money mean to you? What do you think it would actually buy you. It may appear that money is the cause of your stress, but when you really look into what you think it will buy you, often it’s not really about the money. Sure it would elleviate some pressure, but if you think that it is going to solve your stress or depression, then you are very mistaken.
It may for a little while, but as I mentioned before, you will inevitably come across another situation where those same beliefs that caused your stress in the first place will be triggered, sending you straight back into the same place again.
Let’s put your attention on what you want in the area of money and test your potential aims with our two questions: Why do I want this aim? and Is this aim in conflict with reality?
Continue setting goals and putting your attention back on your previously set goals (from week seven) so that you can focus back on what you are aiming for instead of what you are not getting and how ‘bad’ life currently is.
Step Four – Choices
If you’ve not done so already, do something right now that actively gives you information that moves you closer to your goal.
If you are going through relationship issues, read one chapter, or one article that teaches you to do something positive towards the goals you have for your relationship. If feeling down on yourself is part of why you feel overwhelmed, then find some information that teaches you to look at yourself differently or talks about your true self-worth. If you are having money hassles then resource how to make more money or find an exercise that helps you to reassess your financial priorities.
Resource whatever material you need in order to feel like you’re arming yourself with information to move you out of this situation. When you feel like you are getting somewhere with your present challenge then the overwhelm will lift and you will start to feel inspired, encouraged and empowered.
Usually the overwhelm comes only because you are ignorant to what needs to be done to move you out of your present situation. For example, you don’t know how to build a happy relationship (perhaps you never had role models to teach you how), you don’t know how to love yourself, you don’t know how to live financially free. Often overwhelm is not because you can’t overcome something in your life, it’s just that you don’t know how to yet.
This step on the Mind TRACK to Happiness process gets you to resource how to get the life that you want.
Step Five – Know your Plan & Action It
When feeling overwhelmed and discouraged, one of the best things to do is to DO SOMETHING. Anything that is aligned with your goals and gets you one step closer to achieving your goal.
Relationships: Do something nice for your partner, just because.
Yourself: Do something nice for yourself, just because.
Money: Read a rags to riches story for inspiration and start contemplating your own rags to riches story
Whatever it is, whether it be a big step towards your goal or just a little one, just do it! This step is all about action.
You can see, as I keep showing you how to use the Mind TRACK to Happiness process that each time we take a journey from feeling low, down, discouraged and we expand our mind to the bigger picture and the land of possibilities.
This process deliberately shifts the focus of your attention and changes its direction. Remember what you think about expands so whenever you feel like life is getting to you and you don’t know what to do, always refer back to this process.
Sometimes it will completely change your mood straight away, and other times it may just shift your mood only slightly, until you allow yourself the time to sit down and really investigate what your thoughts are, write pages of upgrades to your thinking and spend some solid time setting, researching and planning how to achieve your aims.
The important thing though, is to keep using this process wherever and whenever you can, as this is not only changing your current emotions, but it is retraining your brain to think like this habitually.
Life can be tough, and sometimes it feels like the whole world is against us. But I promise you this period of your life will pass by and lead to something else. How quickly it does that though, and how painful this current situation is, will be up to the mindset you approach it with.
Tomorrow is your last exercise for the postnatal depression recovery program. In this program I will give you an exercise to quickly expand your mind during those moments of overwhelm so they don’t end up in complete overwhelm and breakdown at the end of your day.